This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 11, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Even the wunderkind of the airline industry is feeling the pinch of war. JetBlue getting hurt by higher fuel costs, but still flying above the rest of the airline pack. The airline marking its first anniversary as a publicly traded company by opening the Nasdaq stock market today. Here's the man behind it all, David Neeleman, the CEO of JetBlue.
David, good to have you.
CAVUTO: I know you don't fly to Asia, but obviously a lot of people now are increasingly afraid of flying period. SARS is just the added angst. Is it affecting you?
NEELEMAN: We don't think so. Obviously we saw our bookings drop with the war. And bookings have inched back a little bit since that time. But we have the Easter pass over weekend coming up so.
CAVUTO: How do those look?
NEELEMAN: Bookings are good. They are really good, yes. And so we can't really tell, second quarter is really early now. But we always seem to do better than other airlines on the revenue side even because people like to fly JetBlue and we have a lot of loyal customers. And then on the cost side obviously we have lower costs. So we tend to have a lot better margins than everybody else. So we are hopeful that things are going to improve.
CAVUTO: You know, before, everyone liked the fact that they were all new planes you have. And then people discovered, yes, but they are Airbus planes. And hey, wait a minute, they're French planes. So did you get any backlash with that?
NEELEMAN: No, not really. I think it is an interesting phenomenon, but the planes are actually put together in France. But there are four times as many parts on that airplane that are made in the United States than are made in France.
CAVUTO: But would any of this tempt you to say, all right, I might consider Boeing the next purchase?
NEELEMAN: Well, these decisions are made five, six years in advance, so...
CAVUTO: But would you make a decision like that given all this anti- French sentiment?
NEELEMAN: We always look at our deals and we always talk to Boeing and there are always things in the works. But the Airbus planes have been great for us.
CAVUTO: So you've never run across people that say, oh, that's it, you have French planes, I'm out of here.
NEELEMAN: No, because I remind them that there are 100,000 jobs in the United States because of the parts that are manufactured on our airplanes, and $5 billion into our economy. So it is really a global company. It doesn't really have any more to do with France than it does anywhere else. In fact it has more to do with the United States than any other country.
CAVUTO: Would you spread your wings,. no pun intended, if indeed, some of these airlines that are either on the brink of bankruptcy or in bankruptcy, whether you are talking about the UALs or the USAir that just came out, or some of these - you know, that ultimately they fold. Would you consider replacing them?
NEELEMAN: We have been on a steadily growth trajectory since we started. Our first year in 2000 we did $100 million in sales. The analysts are projecting this year we will do close to a billion dollars in sales. So that's a pretty fast growth rate. We are committed to controlled growth and just kind of lock-stepping. We get a plane about every three weeks that we're putting on a lot of new routes. And we haven't slowed down our growth.
CAVUTO: And you have no planes to.
NEELEMAN: No plans to slow down. No plans to lay anybody off. But I think we are going to go steady ahead and continue to make profits and try and make our shareholders happy.
CAVUTO: All right, David, good seeing you again. Best of luck with everything, all right?
NEELEMAN: Thanks, Neil.
CAVUTO: David Neeleman of JetBlue.
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